For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre.
Epistle of St Paul to Titus 1.7
Now, as I write, the judicial farce in Canada isn’t over yet. I think that it’s time to stop coddling clerical miscreants and to start thinking of their victims. For instance, the tactic taken by Storheim’s defence counsel sickened me… essentially, it was, “They’re nuts, so, you can’t believe them”. This is why victims often don’t come forward… not only do they suffer abuse at the hands of their abusers, they suffer further abuse at the hands of attorneys, institutional officials, and “goodthinkers”. If they win, then, the powers-that-be in the Church tell them that they have to “understand”… that is, “We’re not going to apologise to you publicly as it’s not only an embarrassment, but our lawyers told us not to”.
The Church’s only real authority is its moral authority. For instance, the Church in the homeland doesn’t want to be a “state church”. Why? It’d compromise its moral authority, that’s why. It’s bad enough to be accused of such… which does lead to some degradation of moral authority (but not as severe as an actual state relationship would have). In the OCA’s case, it can’t hide behind “we admit no legal wrongdoing” forever. One such case is bad enough… the EKD had it when the cops nicked Frau Kässemann for drunk driving. She realised that shredded her cred, so, she did the only honourable thing… she resigned, and apologised publicly. You can see where I’m going, don’t you?
Storheim’s shenanigans aren’t the first legal monkeyshines in the OCA… the coppers arrested Benjamin Peterson… Herman Swaiko (to his credit) demanded that he face the consequences, but the Holy Synod refused to act. A court convicted Storheim in Canada, and the Holy Synod still hasn’t acted… Tosi did give us a classic lawyerly evasion, though. Now, Isidore Brittain, a favourite of both Peterson and Paffhausen, faces kiddie porn charges. Sources tell me that the Holy Synod is trying to claim that since they defrocked him, they need do nothing else. This is ludicrous. The OCA desperately needs, not only peace, but also its moral authority restored. That means that it should apologise publicly that a priest of its jurisdiction (for Brittain was certainly that) engaged in such a horrific assault on children. It can’t say, “Well, we washed our hands of the matter by defrocking him”. What was the nature of Brittain’s relationship with Paffhausen and Peterson? Both shielded him, after all. One of the Cabinet said that if Brittain didn’t cop a plea, he could take Peterson and Paffhausen down with him.
Moral authority begins by protecting the weak… not attacking them. We can’t “deny” anymore. We need to say, “Yes, Seraphim Storheim did what the court said that he did. We apologise and we intend to make amends. We’ll see to it that he’s sent to a remote monastery where he can no longer hurt children”. We need to say, “Yes, Benjamin Peterson chose to drive drunk. It was an inexcusable lapse of judgement, for bishops need moral authority. Therefore, we’re sending him off to Manton, to live out his days in repentance. May God look over him”. We need to say, “Yes, Stanley/Isidore Brittain committed gross acts whilst being a priest of the OCA. We apologise for that. We’ll do our best to compensate his victims”.
That’d restore moral authority, and then some. However… I urge you not to hold your breath… not as long as Eric Tosi, John Jillions, and Lyonyo Kishkovsky keep power. Here’s the paradox… if one follows the path of “institutional survival”, one ends by killing the institution, as it’d kill moral authority. Yet, if one did the “crazy” thing and admitted the wrongdoing and did one’s best to put it right, it’d save the institution. It seems counterintuitive and a contradiction to those raised on “legalese” and evasion. However, it IS the only way out. There are many healthy elements in the OCA… but if the present apparat continues its current course, the body won’t survive the next tremor (which will occur… maybe, as soon as the proposed all-Orthodox Sobor in 2016). Mind you, the healthy parishes would survive… they’d merely find a body with real moral authority.
For a Church, if it lacks moral cred, you may as well roll it up and put it to bed… its dead. THAT’S the bottom-line…